Signs a Friendship Has Run Its Course

By Rachel Puryear

Let’s face it – people often have a romanticized view of platonic friendships, too, in addition to romantic ones. There’s an ideal of friends being besties for life; but in the real world, things often don’t work out that way.

There are friendships out there that do last happily and healthily until one person dies, but most friendships we make in our lives will not last forever. If you have a friend you’re very close to and have known for many years, and you guys stay close for a lifetime; count yourselves very lucky, and treasure that relationship – because that sort of a friendship is increasingly rare nowadays.

With that in mind, sometimes it can be difficult to know whether a friendship has simply run its course, or whether there is still life left in it. Therefore, here are some signs that a friendship has simply run its course and reached a dead end, so it’s time to move on.

Note: The below signs are not necessarily indicative of a toxic relationship – that’s a subject big enough for a separate post. However, given the less dramatic nature of friendships that simply expired as opposed to toxic ones, that’s why the former is often more subtle.

Finger pointing at the expiry date on canned food.

It’s Become One-Sided

Do you hear from someone only when they need something? They call you when they want to whine and complain, they won’t listen to your feedback, and they’re nowhere to be found when you need a friend? Or, do they give you a sob story every time they need money, but never pay you back or do anything else to help you in return? Do you seem to be an endless source of favors for them; but you don’t feel any reciprocity or mutual support from them?

Maybe the friendship has recently become this way because they don’t care anymore, or maybe it was always this way and you’re just now starting to notice. Either way, it’s an indication that the friendship is likely past its prime.

Only One Person Makes the Effort Anymore

It’s no fun being the only one reaching out to stay in touch, make plans, and generally keep the friendship alive. And you know what? It feels that bad for a reason – because it reflects that the other person is not as interested in the friendship anymore as you are, and that hurts.

Would you guys ever speak or see each other if you waited for them to make the effort? If the answer is a resounding “no”, then this friendship has probably seen better days.

It Feels Forced

Do you continue to talk to and see the other person because you really want to, and it feels right; or do you instead do it because you feel obligated, or can’t bring yourself to stop doing it?

If you are still in the friendship out of habit or because you don’t really want to be the “bad guy” in ending things, then one or both of you has probably already mentally checked out of this friendship.

You Don’t Know What’s Going on In Each Other’s Lives Anymore – and You Don’t Ask, Either

Maybe you used to chat frequently, and share all the little details of your everyday lives. Not just the overarching themes – their family and love life, their career and work, their current hobbies and interests, and so forth – but lots of little things, too. Everything was shared.

Nowadays, not only do you no longer know the nitty gritty details of their lives; but maybe you don’t even know much about the big stuff. If you’re not asking one another – or sharing, either; that demonstrates a lack of interest, indicating that you aren’t really that into one another anymore.

You Don’t Miss Each Other When It’s Been a While

Did you happen to realize it’s been weeks or months since you last spoke, but you hadn’t been aware of it until now? Or maybe, you reach out but they take forever to get back to you, and seem kind of halfhearted about it when they do?

This is a sign that you’re not on one another’s minds a lot, and even when you are, you don’t have strong feelings towards one another anymore. This is a strong indication that the friendship has waned significantly over more recent years.

You Have Different Social Circles, Different Interests, or Are Maybe Long-Distance Now

We tend to think of friendships and other relationships as involving just two people, and remaining static over time. While the dynamic between any two given people is unique, people are usually package deals in reality. We all come with families of origin, we come with other friends, we come with broader social networks. Who we’re likely to meet in the first place, who we’re likely to be connected with now, and yes – who we’re likely to form a lasting personal relationship with; are all strongly influenced by that greater social network surrounding you.

Geography and circumstances also play a huge role in who we meet and connect with socially. (See here for more about that.)

Often, where interests, social networks, and circumstances diverge; it’s an old friendship that goes back many years – and maybe the two of you had largely overlapping social circles and similar interests at one time, but now you’ve both gone in different directions. Therefore, you are now more on the periphery of one another’s lives than playing a central role.

Sometimes, old friends do grow apart, and their interests change over time. However, such a change can weaken the glue that once held the friendship together. This, even if true, is NOT, in and of itself; a reason to automatically end a friendship. Nonetheless, it will take a mutual and willing effort to stay in touch at this point – which will happen only if the friendship is still important enough to BOTH people involved.

This sign can also be a canary in the coal mine – in that, where your social circles and interests are changing out of sync with one another’s; it can point to a much deeper drift beneath the surface.

It means that, whether either of you intended to or not, you’ve each gone your separate ways, emotionally speaking (and maybe physically, too, in the case of long distance). It probably doesn’t mean that anyone did or said anything wrong, it just means that you’re both different people now, and so the friendship may or may not fit you well anymore.

You’re Friends Mainly Because of Your Past, Rather Than Your Present

Sometimes, we can hold on to friendships and other relationships mainly because of sentimental value.

This also often happens where you’ve been friends with someone since you were both much younger, and you’ve subsequently grown apart – however, the friendship was very important to you at one time, and you still have a lot of great memories with the person.

So, in this case, the friendship becomes about reminiscing on the past, and what you used to do – rather than continuing to have much in common in the present. This is another case where, again, it’s not automatically a reason to end the friendship entirely – you can keep one like this on the periphery of your social circle, and enjoy reminiscing together when you do see one another, but just know that it won’t likely go back to the BFF status it had earlier on in the friendship.

You Stay in Touch Mainly Via Social Media

In an age where social media is so prevalent, we all have some people on our friends lists who we would never stay in touch with or hear from again, most likely, without social media. We know who some of these people are.

There’s nothing wrong with staying connected with these people – or, more generally, with maintaining some relationships on the periphery of your social circle – but just don’t confuse relationships which have devolved into mere acquaintanceships; with those that are still active, dependable, strong, fulfilling friendships and other relationships.


Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to letting go of that which no longer serves anyone, and embracing new opportunities more suitable for the present. If you enjoyed this content and want to see more of it, please hit “like” and subscribe, if you have not done so already. xoxo

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